PHELPS, JESSE DONALD
Name: Jesse Donald Phelps Rank/Branch: W2/US 7th Army Special Forces Group Unit: Aviation Company, (Assault Helicopter) 229th Attack Helicopter Battalion, assigned to 1st Cavalry Division
Aviation Company, 7th SFGA was withdrawn from the 7th SFGA and redesignated as one of the four companies (A-D) of the 229th Aviation Battalion. It would have been designated, for example, Co A, 229th Avn Bn (Aslt Hel). It was not uncommon for units and personnel to unofficially insist on using their old designation when they were absorbed into another unit and redsignated. That appears to be the case here.
Date of Birth: 01 October 1937 (Ogden UT) Home City of Record: Boise ID Date of Loss: 28 December 1965 Country of Loss: South Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 135702N 1084955E (BR570450) Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered Category: 4 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: UH1D Refno: 0224
Other Personnel In Incident: Donald C. Grella; Thomas Rice Jr.; Kenneth L. Stancil (all missing)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 October 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2009.
REMARKS: OVERDUE ON 10-15 MIN FLIGHT - J
SYNOPSIS: The large influx of American combat and support battalions arriving in Vietnam in the mid-1960's afforded the Army Special Forces a wealth of potential military backup and engineer support. Airmobile infantry promised quick and decisive response to CIDG patrolling opportunities or adverse camp situations. The availability of engineers assured required camp construction and defensive strengthening of existing sites.
In exchange, the Special Forces provided support, regional intelligence and area indoctrination for the arriving Army formations. In mid to late December 1965, Special Forces Major Brewington's B-22 Detachment helped the 1st Cavalry Division to settle into the An Khe area. Assisting, was the 229th Attack Helicopter Battalion of the Aviation Company of 7th Special Forces Group (Assault Helicopter).
On December 28, 1965 a UH1D helicopter from the Aviation Company departed An Khe on a supply mission to a combat unit in the early hours. Radio transmissions revealed that flight was difficult because of weather and darkness. The pilot, WO2 Jesse Phelps, radioed for weather reports. The other crew of the aircraft consisted of SP5 Donald Grella, crewchief; WO3 Kenneth Stancil, co-pilot; and SP4 Thomas Rice, door gunner.
When the aircraft was about 10 minutes' flying time from An Khe, radio contact was suspended, and no further word was received from the aircraft. When the UH1D failed to return, an intensive search was conducted, with no sign of either the lost aircraft or its crew. The crew was believed to be all killed.
The crew of the UH1D are among nearly 2500 Americans missing in Southeast Asia. In the 1950's Henry Kissinger predicted that "limited political engagements" would result in nonrecoverable prisoners of war. This prediction was fulfilled in Korea and Vietnam, where thousands of men and women remain missing when ample evidence exists that many of them survived (from both wars) and are alive today. For Americans, and particularly the families of those who are missing, this abandonment of military personnel is unacceptable and the policy that allows it must be changed before another generation is left behind in some future war.
Sent: 9/15/2009 7:36:07 PM
Subject: CWO Jesse Phelps
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No.
April 08, 2010
U.S. Soldiers MIA from Vietnam War Identified
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of four U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
A group burial for U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth L. Stancil, Chattanooga, Tenn.; Chief Warrant Officer Jesse D. Phelps, Boise, Idaho; Spc. Thomas Rice, Jr., Spartanburg, S.C.; and Spc. Donald C. Grella, Laurel, Neb., as well as Rice's individual remains burial will be tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery. Stancil, Phelps and Grella were buried individually last year.
The four men were aboard a UH-1D Huey helicopter which failed to return from a mission over Gia Lai Province, South Vietnam to pick up special forces soldiers on Dec. 28, 1965. The exact location of the crash site was not determined during the war, and search and rescue operations were suspended after failing to locate the men after four days.
From 1993-2005, joint U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams led by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command attempted unsuccessfully to locate the site. But in April 2006, a joint team interviewed two local villagers, one of whom said he had shot down a U.S. helicopter in 1965. The villagers escorted the team to the crash site where wreckage was found. In March 2009, another joint team excavated the area and recovered human remains and other artifacts including an identification tag from Grella.
JPAC's scientists employed traditional forensic techniques in making these identifications, including comparisons of dental records with the remains found at the site.
For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.